Members of the Domestic Lumber Traders Association of Ghana have accused some officials of the Forestry Commission of extortion and thievery in contravention of the law.
According to the group, the Timber Resources Management and Legality Licensing Regulations enacted by parliament in 2017, LI 2254, which addresses key issues confronting stakeholders in the forest industry, is being disregarded with impunity by Forestry Commission officials.
Speaking to Class News after a meeting with stakeholders of the Forestry Commission, Director of Communications for the association, Anthony Partey Asare, lamented the illegal collection of fees from lumber operators.
He said: “We’re hoping the things we talked about in our petition will be considered. We presented to them one of the receipts they’ve been issuing to our members, what they term operational expenses, and told them it was an illegal fee to collect.
“So, we hope to see if the things we spoke about in our petition are considered and when things are normal, we’ll are OK. When you look at the LI 2254, it tells you how illegal lumber, if it is intercepted [should be handled], it doesn’t say if somebody is having illegal lumber anybody can arrest him, give him a fine, take the money or the wood without giving him any document to prove that he has illegally done something.
“We’re not encouraging illegality, we’re advising our members to do their best to buy legal lumber because we know the constraint the Forestry Commission is going through, but if somebody is having illegal lumber and he has to pay money, then the person who sells the illegal lumber and the person buying the illegal lumber and the one taking money from the one with illegal lumber, what is the difference between them?”